Italian researchers report they have found that the association between the bacteria -- known as Helicobacter pylori (h. pylori) -- and heart disease appeared to depend on the strength, or virulent nature, of the bacteria strain. In their study, the researchers found evidence of the bacteria in 62 percent of people with heart disease and only 40 percent of those without the disease. "The prevalence of infection by Helicobacter pylori was similar in patients with heart attack, unstable chest pain, or chronic chest pain," says the study's lead author, Vincenzo Pasceri, M.D., of the department of internal medicine and cardiology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome. "The findings strongly suggest that the association between Helicobacter pylori and heart disease is related to the strength of this bacteria," he says. Though there was a relationship between the bacteria and heart disease, the researchers stated that h. pylori -- which can be controlled with antibiotics -- did not exacerbate the severity of heart disease.
The researchers studied 88 patients who had ischemic heart disease, which causes heart attacks and is the result of poor blood flow to the heart. The control group consisted of 88 patients who did not have heart disease. Researchers say every effort was made to match the groups by body mass index -- a measure of fatness -- and socioeconomic class. The latter was important, Pasceri says, because poorer people tend to get more infections than those with more financial resources.
Even with this finding, Pasceri says that an individual with an
ulcer because of an h. pylori infection shouldn't necessarily b
Contact: Brian Henry
American Heart Association